Coach Bobby Bowden admits he's similar to an old boxer, hoping, believing he has the skill and stamina for one more title fight.
"I still think Florida State can win a national championship. I know they can," he said Sunday. "Can I do it? Can I bring them back? I think so. We'll find out."
Although the Seminoles (6-6) ended a disappointing regular season with a 21-14 loss to Florida on Saturday, Bowden, 77, reiterated he has no intention of retiring.
Yes, the losses, more than he has had since his first year in Tallahassee in 1976 when the Seminoles were 5-6, have frustrated and hurt. So, too, has criticism he has perceived as unfair and personal heaped on son Jeff, the offensive coordinator. Jeff Bowden announced his resignation a couple weeks ago, prompting a search that could expand to more than one position.
"I'm sure glad I don't ever lose 'cause if I did I'd have to quit," Bobby Bowden said, laughing. "I have made that statement. But the question I would ask y'all and think about it all the way through, 'If you were me, where I am right now, would you quit?' ''
He does have the bulk of his team back. Only six seniors start. FSU did lose five games by a combined 26 points, and all came down to the waning moments.
"If we had gone another minute (in those five games), we could have had a heck of a year," he said. "Can't you improve a minute's worth? Yeah, I think we can improve a minute's worth."
GOING WEST: Bowden, once dubbed King of the Road, will have the opportunity to add a new stop and log far more miles than he has in recent years.
He and the Seminoles will be going to San Francisco for the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 27 to play a Pac-10 team, Oregon, Arizona State or possibly UCLA if the Bruins upset USC on Saturday.
Emerald Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli planned to extend an official invitation Sunday, but the ACC contacted him and FSU athletic director Dave Hart and asked for a delay until Virginia Tech is released by the BCS as a potential at-large selection, probably Tuesday.
FSU has made three trips to California, but none to the northern part. Of FSU's past 16 bowl trips, nine have been in Florida and five to New Orleans.
"That's the one good thing about getting this bowl bid is there's no telling how many players that I have who have never been there; you're probably talking 90 percent, maybe all of them," Bowden said.
Brian Landman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (813) 226-3347.